Two northern Idaho black bear hunters recently had a run-in with a grizzly bear that ended in the grizzly being shot and killed. The incident happened on June 8 and investigators have since confirmed the bear was shot in self-defense.
Idaho Fish and Game officials were initially notified by the Boundary County dispatch office. According to IDFG report, the hunters were in the Ruby Creek watershed, outside of Bonners Ferry, and they had just killed a black bear. They were in the process of retrieving the carcass when a subadult male grizzly appeared out of dense brush near the kill site. The two hunters slowly moved away from the area and attempted to scramble the bear by shouting and making loud noises.
Undeterred, the bear continued to approach the hunters, so one of the two men shot the bear at close range and killed it. Neither fighter was injured during the encounter.
Fish and Game officers responded to the scene, where they recovered the bear carcass and investigated the incident. The killing was determined to have occurred in self-defense and neither hunter has been charged with wrongdoing.
Bear Hunting in Grizzly Country
Although the number of people killed or injured by grizzly bears has not increased, the number of close encounters with grizzly bears has increased in recent years (read our full report on grizzly bear attacks and encounters here).
Grizzlies are listed as an endangered species by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the species is federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. In Idaho, grizzly bears and black bears coexist in several areas of the state, including the Panhandle, and hunting in grizzly bear country always comes with its own level of risk. IDFG has a number of recommendations for hunters in grizzly country, including hunting with a partner, retrieving meat as quickly as possible, and making lots of noise, especially around streams and thick vegetation.
As grizzly bear populations increase across the state, wildlife officials are also warning hunters to take extra precautions to ensure their target is the right species. Last month, a hunter’s trail camera photography a grizzly bear in the North Fork area of Salmon, Idaho. The area is not known for grizzly bears and has not reported any sightings since 2020.
Read more : If you live in bear country, then you already know bears must fear us.
The growing number of grizzly bears in Idaho and the expansion of their range across the state are two of the reasons why Idaho Governor Brad Little officially requested USFWS to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list in March.
“Bureaucratic gridlock is unnecessarily keeping healthy populations of grizzly bears on the endangered species list,” Governor Little said in a statement. Press release. “When there’s no exit for healthy grizzly bear populations from the Endangered Species Act, it’s time to demand a reset.”